Facebook wielded user data to reward, punish rivals, emails show

Facebook wielded user data to reward, punish rivals, emails show

Facebook wielded user data to reward, punish rivals, emails show

Facebook touted itself as championing privacy four years ago when it made a decision to restrict outsider developers' access to data about its users' friends.

Within the emails are several examples of external companies begging Facebook not to remove user data permissions for their products - perhaps the most prominent victim of which is Twitter and its now-defunct Vine social video app.

In response, Facebook has said that the documents had been presented in a "very misleading manner" and required additional context. "We stand by the platform changes we made in 2015 to stop a person from sharing their friends' data with developers".

Facebook's statement goes into specifics, detailing each of the concerns raised thus far by the exposed communications, although arguably, numerous provided answers do not completely address the issues raised - in some cases going off on tangents and pointing towards other mechanisms involved. "The extensions we granted at that time [to select partners] were short term and only used to prevent people from losing access to specific functions as developers updated their apps".

Critics have drawn attention to this kind of behavior as being potentially in violation of United States and European antitrust and anti-monopoly laws, as the dominant Facebook platform can arguably be seen blocking competitors attempts to enter its market.

There were four other areas that Collins expressed concerns over ranging from the valuation of friends' data to increase FB revenues to using data collected from the Onavo VPN app. Facebook had "explanations" for them all and maintains that Six4Three only selected "some, but not all" documents and discussion in these matters. "To mitigate any bad PR, Facebook planned to make it as hard of possible for users to know that this was one of the underlying features of the upgrade of their app".

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The release of the internal documents adds to Facebook's challenges as it wrestles with issues as varied as how it enabled the spread of misinformation and whether it properly safeguarded the data of its users. Damien Geradin, a Brussels-based lawyer at Euclid Law, said the refusal of access to Vine data could be seen as a "potential refusal to deal" with rivals, "but you would need to show that Facebook" is essential to users and it is "not clear it is".

Mr Damian Collins, the chairman of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, which is investigating Facebook, used Parliament's sergeant-at-arms to obtain the documents last month.

The 250 pages of documents cover a period when Facebook was shifting its business from a focus on desktop computers to mobile devices.

In other cases Zuckerberg eloquently espoused the value of giving software developers more access to user data in hopes that it would result in applications that, in turn, would encourage people to do more on Facebook.

"Unless anyone raises objections, we will shut down their friends" API access today, ' vice president Justin Osofsky allegedly wrote. What's more, a 2018 review of the feature found that "the information is not as useful after about a year", which the company argues is really only good for low level tasks like sorting contact lists.

In one email, dated February 4, 2015, a Facebook engineer said a feature of the Android Facebook app that would "continually upload" a user's call and SMS history would be a "high-risk thing to do from a PR perspective". The app also sent valuable data on what types of apps people were downloading back to Facebook.

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